SILVER CREEK, N.Y. (WIVB) - Three people died in an accident on the I-90 East near Exit 58 for Silver Creek after the driver of a van fell asleep at the wheel and hit a dump truck, according to State Police.
Update: Family members told News 4, two of the children injured in the crash appear to be getting better.
The van was carrying 10 people to Buffalo from Florida when it drifted off the road and hit a dump truck belonging to the Thruway Authority that was in the median. The truck was slowly moving down the shoulder of the roadway as thruway crews picked up trash thrown in the grassy area.
PHOTOS | See images from the scene
Driver 27-year-old Luis Arroyo, 30-year-old Christieann Gonzalez and Luis's 1-month-old, Luis Arroyo, Jr. were killed in the crash. Six children that were in the van, whose ages range from 2- to 13-years-old, were taken to Women and Children's Hospital. Three are in critical condition and three others are in stable condition.
The other adult in the vehicle was 25-year-old Jessica Gonzalez, who is Christieann's sister-in-law and mother of the 1-month-old that perished in the crash. Jessica underwent surgery at ECMC and is in critical condition.
Captain Douglas Montijo said, "It is gruesome, anybody who has children it pulls on their heart strings as well. It appears that it's a very unfortunate event that I can't believe families are still doing this without child seats. If anyone takes anything away from this, I want to stress the importance of properly using child seats, booster seats, whatever the condition is for the children."
State Police believe that not all of the children were properly secured in the correct car seats and that the middle seat of the van had been removed. It is believed by authorities that many were seated on the floor at the time of the crash.
"We have more children than we have car seat devices," Captain Montijo added. "It was maybe two families and a blended family. We're not clear on that."
Some of the children are now on machines to help them breathe.
Dr. Kathryn Bass of Women and Children's Hospital said, "I think the primary differences between children and adults, specifically in a car crash, is that children are more prone to have multiple body compartment injuries... head, chest, belly... so many of these children have multiple compartment injuries."
Doctors do say that all of the children who survived the accident are expected to pull through. The state worker who was driving the dump truck suffered a minor injury, but is okay.
The crash closed a 23-mile stretch of I-90 East for hours on Thursday, but it has since re-opened. Following the accident, Unyts put out a call to the community for blood donations, saying the surviving victims are in desperate need.
If you would like to donate blood, call 716-512-7940 or stop by one of the following centers:
- Tonawanda Blood Donation Center: 96 Niagara Street, Tonawanda
- East Niagara Hospital: 521 East Avenue, Lockport
- Eastern Hills Mall Donation Center: 4545 Transit Road, Williamsville
- Southgate Blood Donation Center: 1000 Union Road, West Seneca
- Unyts Headquarters: 110 Broadway Avenue, Buffalo
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